Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are up to three years behind with their education by the time they sit their GCSE exams, a new study has shown.
Little has been known about the outcomes of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, resettled refugees or asylum support children who enter the English school system, as the government does not record the progress of these pupils, many of whom are extremely vulnerable having experienced past trauma.
The Education Policy Institute, supported by Unbound Philanthropy, is the first study to examine the educational outcomes of the majority of asylum-seeking and refugee pupils in England, estimates their school attainment and considers absence and exclusion rates.
“The considerable gap in attainment between unaccompanied asylum-seeking pupils and non-migrant children of 37.4 months is estimated by researchers to be similar in size to the gap for pupils with special needs and disabilities who have the most severe needs,” said the report.
There were just under 24,000 children under 18 years old in receipt of asylum support under Section 4 or Section 95 in England In December 2017. There were an additional 4,560 Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) looked after by local authorities in England in March 2017. Additionally, around 1,000 children aged 5-16 were resettled in England in 2017 under schemes for designated refugees.
The report highlighted:
“Overall, our analysis reveals that Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children are a highly vulnerable group within secondary schools in England, with very low attainment even by comparison with other vulnerable groups of pupils and experiencing higher-than-average rates of school absence and fixed period exclusions,” said the report.
“Refugee and asylum-support recipient children fare better, with low estimated rates of absences and exclusions but, in spite of these possible educational advantages, they are still subject to low estimated GCSE attainment, comparable with that of other highly vulnerable groups such as persistently disadvantaged pupils,” the report concluded.